The student who appeared to shout “Slaughter the Jews” at Israeli minister Danny Ayalon has claimed the Deputy Foreign minister misunderstood his Arabic.
The Oxford Student newspaper has named the protester as second year St Edmund’s Hall student Noor Rashid.
Several eyewitnesses said they heard Mr Rashid shout: “Itbah Al-Yahud”, an Arabic phrase meaning “Slaughter the Jews”. Mr Ayalon translated the phrase with this meaning.
But Mr Rashid claimed that he had in fact shouted “Khaybar ya Yahod”, a classic Arabic battle cry referring to a seventh-century attack by Mohammed on the Jewish community in Khaybar where the Jews were conquered and made to pay half of their income to the Muslim population.
They were finally expelled by a successive Muslim ruler, Caliph Omar.
Mr Rashid said: “My version went: ‘Khaybar, O Jews, we will win’. This is in classical, Koranic Arabic and I doubt that apart from picking up on the word ‘Jew’, that even the Arabic speakers in the room would have understood the phrase.
“As you can see, I made no reference to killing Jews. It carries absolutely no derogatory or secondary meanings.”
Mr Rashid said he believed the words ‘Jew’ and ‘Israeli’ were interchangeable terms.
He added that it was possible he could have been misunderstood by the crowd, saying: “There was a great deal of confusion and several people were shouting at the same time.
“I do acknowledge that people may have misheard me and assume that I uttered something else - namely to ‘slaughter the Jews’ which is something that I do not believe.
“I express the deepest regret if my remarks were misunderstood or misheard to mean anything that even comes close to encouraging the slaughter of innocents. I will be writing letters to all my Jewish friends to express my sincere apologies, and also to clarify my remarks.”
The Community Security Trust's Mark Gardner said he believed that Mr Rashid's chant still amounted to incitement to racial hatred. He said: “Of course, it’s less explicit than shouting “Kill the Jews” but it doesn’t get much more explicit than shouting that.
"Nevertheless, shouting an old battle cry harking back to a conflict between Muslims and Jews, where Jews were attacked for not converting to Islam, still sounds like incitement to me.
“The police should still continue with their investigation. It is about time incitement was treated as such. We are very quick to charge neo-Nazis with incitement, which is right of course, but there appears to be an increasing distinct double standard."